The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) spent almost R9 million in a five month period this year on air tickets and charter flights to deport undocumented migrants.
This came to light in response to a Parliamentary question posed by Democratic Alliance (DAS) shadow home affairs minister Joe McGluwa to Minister Aaron Motsoaledi.
The Ministerial response revealed the DHA spent over R33 million in the 2018/19 financial year deporting migrants illegally in South Africa. R9 million was spent between April 1 and August 31 this year.
McGluwa told defenceWeb he “surmised” the majority of those deported were apprehended at recognised points of entry, such as Beit Bridge, one of 53 official land points of entry. All told South Africa has 72 entry points – 11 of them airports and eight sea ports.
Botswana has the most – 17 – official land entry points to South Africa followed by Lesotho (14), eSwatini (11), Namibia (eight), Mozambique (two) and Zimbabwe (one).
“I have no idea how many undocumented foreigners were initially apprehended by soldiers deployed on border protection, but feel more should be done to strengthen this aspect of national border protection,” he said.
There are currently 15 companies deployed on the national border protection tasking, Operation Corona. Planning by the Joint Operations Division of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) was for this number to increase to 22, but budgetary constraints put paid to any increase in the number of boots on the ground along South Africa’s land borders.
Illegal aliens, or undocumented persons, apprehended by soldiers on border patrol are handed to police or DHA officials at the earliest opportunity as the military does not have powers of arrest.